Ireland get some reward


Two well-worked early goals provided sweet consolation for Ireland as they bowed out of the UEFA Under-16 Championships with a resounding win over England at Ashqelon.

Ireland were clearly up for the challenge and started brilliantly, running up a two-goal lead within 11 minutes. The first was an excellent goal, built from the back with Stephen Kelly's ball being helped on to George Snee by Liam Kearney. Snee, making his first start, cut inside two defenders to lay the ball off for Keith Fahey who picked his spot in the bottom corner with a right-foot shot.

With England's defence most unsure, Kelly might have done better than blaze over after goalkeeper Andrew Lonergan dropped a Kearney free-kick on eight minutes.

But more sloppy defending by England cost them a second goal three minutes later as Sean Thornton out-jumped everyone at the back post to head home Keith Graydon's corner.

England enjoyed their best spell of the game early in the second-half and they got a goal back on 47 minutes. Irish goalkeeper Brian Murphy could only touch Neil Austin's fiercely hit shot onto the crossbar and Michael Chopra headed home the rebound. Murphy then excelled himself to make a point-blank save from Stefan Moore 10 minutes later as Ireland weathered the storm.

"It was a great performance. A real fire-in-the-belly up-and-at-them type of display," said manager Brian Kerr. "We controlled the game from the start and we certainly weren't flattered by our 2-0 lead at half-time. England came back at us early in the second-half, but we missed loads of chances and could have won by five or six goals at the finish."

Republic Of Ireland: B Murphy (Manchester City); Brennan (Newcastle United), Kelly (Tottenham Hotspur), McCarthy (Manchester City), Rossiter (Sunderland); Thornton (Tranmere Rovers), Fahey (Aston Villa), Ward (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Kearney (Nottingham Forest); Graydon (Sunderalnd), Snee (Tottenham Hotspur). Subs: Capper (Sunderland) for Kearney (half-time), D Murphy (Celtic) for Graydon (76 mins).

England: Lonergan (Preston North End); Austin (Barnsley), O'Hanlon (Everton), Otsemobor (Liverpool), Willetts (Aston Villa); Muirhead (Manchester United), Clark (Sunderland), Prince (Liverpool), Howard (Southampton); Chopra (Newcastle United), Moore (Aston Villa). Subs: Bowditch (Tottenham Hotspur) for Otsemobor (14 mins), Brown (Bristol City) for Prince (half-time), Morgan (Wimbledon) for Howard (72 mins).

Referee: A Sipailo (Italy).